If your child has recently received an Autism diagnosis, odds are you are searching for answers. Among the questions you may be facing, one is likely to be causing some of the most anxiety: how do I explain my child’s Autism to him or her?
A helpful first step in this process is to build a positive mindset surrounding this issue. Odds are you have already noticed your child’s struggles and set of unique needs before the diagnosis. Set out to not let the diagnosis define your child, but to see it as a helpful explanation of your child’s needs. This mental framework will help you approach talking to your child about his or her Autism in a constructive way.
There are a number of reasons why it is important to tell your child about their diagnosis. Your child will likely already perceive differences between themselves and their peers. Explaining the reason for their struggles helps to reduce feelings of low self-esteem. Explaining Autism for what it is to your child will also help them to be self-aware of their challenges and be receptive to therapeutic methods of improvement.
When it comes to the appropriate time to have the conversation, you will need to consider your child’s age, and level of communication. A good sign that it is a good time to tell your child about their Autism is when they start asking questions themselves. For instance, if they are able and begin to ask why they have a hard time focusing or communicating, or when they express frustration over the challenges they are facing, you can sit them down and have a conversation explaining the answers to their questions.
When explaining your child’s Autism to them, be sure to talk about it in terms of their own experience. Talk about the questions they have been asking about their social struggles, communication barriers, and attention issues. It is also important to frame everything as positively as you can. For instance, if they are moving to a new classroom, let them know that you are giving them the best help they can get in order to be as successful as possible.
Instilling a sense of hope is also crucial to this process. Let them know that there are plenty of people who have Autism, and lots of people with Autism have been incredibly successful and have made major contributions to society. Let them know that it is part of what makes them unique, just how everyone has something about them that makes them unique.
The best way to end the conversation is the same best way I would recommend anyone end a conversation with their child on a regular basis: let them know you are proud of them and that you love them. ❤